Loading...

Follow City Limits on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

NYC Planning

A map of the proposed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

The de Blasio administration has a plan to shore up the Lower East Side’s defenses against rising seawaters. It will also rebuild the largest park in Lower Manhattan. There will be 40 acres of greenspace. The park will have eight baseball fields, three soccer fields and a running track. There will be a multipurpose field, four-and-a-half basketball courts and 12 tennis courts, according to the project’s website.

So what’s not to like? Both of the community boards in whose districts the project falls have approved it, but conditioned their “yes” votes on extensive lists of conditions.

Meanwhile, some stakeholders are upset that, with little warning or explanation, last year the de Blasio administration ripped up a different plan for the same space that it developed in concert with the community over a four-year period.

And while the new plan offers a faster building timeline, it requires the total closure of a key park in a part of the city starved for open space – and some in the neighborhood are skeptical that the shutdown will expedite the project as the city claims.

A hearing on the East Side project is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Two miles of coastline

The East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) Project is an initiative of coastal protection funded by New York City and the federal government. The project aims to reduce flooding from coastal storms and the rise of sea level on the East Side. This protection stretches from Montgomery Street to East 25thStreet, that is 2.4 miles of coastline protection.

ESCR is led by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. There are other departments working in this project such as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of City Planning (DCP), and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The city hired AKRF, a consultant team that has experts on waterfront and coastal engineering, stormwater management, and landscape architecture.

The project was a priority in Mayor de Blasio’s One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City and in Rebuild by Design, a competition that was sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Obama administration. HUD is supplying $338 million to the project via its Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery fund. On top of that, the city allocated some of its own money to cover the current plan’s total cost of $1.45 billion. The original plan cost $760 million.

A community plan, and then a change

It was an accomplishment when the community of the Lower East Side and the city agreed on a plan for resiliency. The effort took around four years.

In the original plan, the city was going to build multiple berms, floodgates or a small shelf of land next to the FDR Drive. The purpose of this would have left the East River Park as a sponge when a major storm hits. Then park would’ve taken the hit instead of the nearby homes.

On September 28, 2018, however, the de Blasio administration issued a press release announcing it was pursuing a new plan for some of the East Side Resiliency Project. Some of the community plan survive intact. But about 70 percent of it changed.

According to a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency, under the original design, “the flood barrier was to be constructed on the inland side of the East River Park, adjacent to the FDR drive.” It would’ve taken the form of a wall around 8 or 9 feet. It would’ve been landscaped to look like a hill from the park.

But with the revised design, the who East River Park will be elevated 8 feet. It will move the flood barrier to the water’s edge. The spokesperson went on the say that there will not be any changes in the number of softball, soccer and multipurpose turf fields. The city’s main reason for making the change was because they wanted to accelerate the construction process and have less traffic disruption.

Construction is set to begin in spring 2020 and will be finished by the summer of 2023.

The revised plan will also, the administration says, permit a better connection to East River Park for members of the community. The plan will permit building a Flyover Bridge for the East River Greenway.

Other elements of the plan include a potential ferry landing, kayaking amenities and cultural facilities in order to create a more vibrant neighborhood.

Boards approve, with conditions

The northern part of the project is in Community Board 6, which approved the ESCR project with 43 votes in favor on June 12. Molly Hollister, the chair of Board 6, has said the community received the plan well. Still, the board did apply some conditions to its approval. Some concerned the need for noise and dust mitigation around the construction site. Another tasked the Department of Transportation with developing a plan to address the narrowed lanes by East 20thstreet that will allow passing along the street once construction begins.

The southern part of the project, which encompasses East River Park, falls in Community Board 3. The board approved the project with 33 in favor and 2 against it on June 2019.

Just as with Community Board 6, Board 3 approved the project but had a laundry list of conditions. Some of the conditions were for the city to provide details on open space mitigation and to have specifics on a timeline for alternative recreation options. The board also wants the plan to take into account what sea levels will be in 2100, not just the current target date of 2050. The board also wants the city to agree to update its members on construction, hold community meetings like town halls, and create a Community Advisory Group made up of community and institutional stakeholders. (The full set of conditions can be found here; it is item 6 at the end of page 7.)

Wednesday’s hearing is likely to witness substantial skepticism about how the revised plan will impact the park.

Worries about the timeline

Charles Krezell, the co-founder and president of LUNGS (Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens), was in disbelief last fall when he heard about the city’s new plan. “No one was prepared for it,” he says.

He is unsure that this project can be completed in just three years and worried that it will stretch beyond the current terms of elected officials who will approve it, diffusing accountability. “No one else [in city office now] is going to be in office at that point, so it’s going to be very difficult, the city can walk away, the city can run out of money, anything can happen,” he says. “We can have a flood tomorrow, there’s no barrier to protect us from anything.”

Even though both community boards endorsed the plan, Krezell vows to contest the project. “This battle is not over, I think there are still people organizing and we’re struggling to push the city as much as we can,” he says. “I’m sorry we have to spend all our energy in trying to get the city to do the right thing to protect this community,” he says. “But the community is not going to lay down and let them walk over us.”

There are specific concerns about the Lower East Side Ecology Center, an organization that provides composting and e-waste services to New Yorkers and is located in the park. The city has not recognized or addressed the future of the center, and it is unclear what will happen once construction begins. Christine Datz-Romero, who is the co-founder and executive director of the center, says she was in disbelief when she found out the change of plans. “The entire community is still trying to understand why this decision was made to really change the plan so radically,” she says.

Sign up for our newsletters to get our reporting delivered to you.

The Weekly

Never miss a probing investigative report, thought-provoking op-ed or news making podcast

Sign up for The Weekly Mapping the Future

City Limits' Housing and Development Bulletin. News and Tools for New Yorkers to Navigate the Housing Crunch

Sign up for Mapping the Future

Sign up for free newsletters and get more of City Limits delivered to your inbox.

Thank you!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email for a confirmation.

Romero says that city has not provided a reason for why the center was not included. The Parks Department is helping in finding a temporary home during construction, but as of right now, nothing has been finalized. Romero says that the department is finding an alternative space for their education program, but the center would prefer to stay in the Lower East Side. The department is also looking for space for their composting program. “We’re making progress, we want to stay here in the Lower East Side because that’s really the community we’ve been serving and have that have ties for decades now.”

A major demand from organizations calls for phased construction, but the city has not provided a clear answer as to whether it will embrace this option. Phased construction would close down sections of the park instead of the whole thing, so at least parts of it could be used while construction takes place.

According to the DDC, they are looking for ways on how to implement phased construction as it is something the community wants. The idea is brought up constantly during meetings with the community.

“Sometimes in the darkest moments, they’re not making any firm commitments and I feel very anxious about that fact,” Romero says. “I fear that they’re just pacifying people right now by acknowledging that they have heard the concerns and they’re looking into it but not making some commitment.”

Emily Curtis-Murphy, the park manager for SolarOne and a member of the East River Alliance, says that the community is not against a plan for resiliency but they want the city to be transparent with their plans and have the voices of the community heard.

“I don’t think that anyone in the East River Alliance is opposed to the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project overall,” she says. “We just have a lot of questions about the new approach.”

The post East Side Resiliency Plan Faces Key Hearing appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

NYCEDC

A model of the Essex Crossing project

Amazon’s decision to withdraw its plans to build a second headquarters in Long Island City sparked dire predictions from many observers. Some argued it would now be impossible to attract significant commercial development in Western Queens, or that businesses would be discouraged from moving anywhere in the five boroughs. Many of us in the real estate community wondered if this signalled an end to the pro-growth political climate that helped drive the city’s incredible economic recovery over the past four decades.

Six months later, it now seems clear that these concerns were overblown. Amazon itself is reportedly looking to take more space in midtown Manhattan. And the City of New York has already been engaging community stakeholders around a new vision for the Long Island City site.

Treating the Amazon HQ2 project as a proxy for all new development was an error in judgement. Amazon’s nationwide competition and the media frenzy that followed put the focus on what New York City had offered to do for Amazon, rather than what this project would ultimately deliver for New Yorkers. Amazon failed to secure meaningful community input or community buy-in. James Patchett, president and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, who led Amazon negotiations on behalf of the City, has noted that Amazon “never hired a single New Yorker to work for them, to talk to New Yorkers, and never really connected with people in the city.”

But the City of New York and the real-estate industry know how to develop ambitious projects hand in hand with communities in ways that ensure both local needs and citywide goals are being met. To see an example, simply look to the Lower East Side, where lots that sat vacant for decades have been transformed by a community-centric process into Essex Crossing.

Essex Crossing began when the local community board established guidelines for what was then known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Between 2009 and 2010, a committee led by experts from the Pratt Institute held a series of meetings with representatives of the many constituencies that would be impacted by any new development.

Their plan – the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project – called for preserving the neighborhood’s character through contextual design, while producing mixed-income housing, cultural amenities, and retail space. That plan ultimately informed the City’s public bidding process and led to the selection of the Essex Crossing development team, Delancey Street Associates LLC, a joint venture of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners.

Ten years later, long-vacant lots have been replaced by a group of buildings that are distinct yet cohesive in their design, fitting seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood. There are amenities that serve long-time residents, like a much-needed supermarket, while 500 permanently affordable apartments will help make sure that the Lower East Side remains accessible for new generations of New Yorkers.

The centerpiece of that development – a new and improved home for the historic Essex Street Market – officially opened to the public just a few months ago. The New Essex Market is an example of what makes the project as a whole so special: protecting longstanding vendors reflecting the neighborhood’s history and expanding opportunities for innovative food startups looking to the future.

These are just some of the reasons that our organization, the Urban Land Use Institute New York, selected Essex Crossing for an Excellence in Mixed-Use Development Award earlier this year. But this project is far from the only evidence that inclusive, community-driven planning is alive and well in our city.

CityViews are readers’ opinions, not those of City Limits. Add your voice today!

Within the last few years, neighborhoods from Hunts Point to Far Rockaway have come together to develop comprehensive visions for growth and have invited investment from both the public and private sectors, resulting in further sustainable development, additional job opportunities, and more affordable housing in the region The same can and must be done in Long Island City.

It will require our government officials, community stakeholders, and the development community to work collaboratively to develop a shared vision for the future of Long Island City.  But the advocates and elected officials who opposed the Amazon project have a responsibility here as well, and an opportunity to prove that being anti-Amazon doesn’t mean being anti-development.

Sign up for our newsletters to get our reporting delivered to you.

The Weekly

Never miss a probing investigative report, thought-provoking op-ed or news making podcast

Sign up for The Weekly Mapping the Future

City Limits' Housing and Development Bulletin. News and Tools for New Yorkers to Navigate the Housing Crunch

Sign up for Mapping the Future

Sign up for free newsletters and get more of City Limits delivered to your inbox.

Thank you!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email for a confirmation.

These individuals must come to the table and work collaboratively, embracing the type of development approach we have seen succeed at Essex Crossing: development that serves the needs of both current and future residents and that protects neighborhood character, but recognizes that no neighborhood exists as an island and that the future of our city depends on smart and sustainable growth.

If we can come together in this way, history will remember Amazon’s departure as an anomaly rather than as the shape of things to come.

Felix Ciampa is the Executive Director at Urban Land Institute New York.

The post Opinion: Avoid Another Amazon by Learning from Essex Crossing appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Harry DiPrinzio

Inside the Frederick Douglass Senior Center.

The City Council’s 2020 budget allocated $2.1 million in funding for 10 senior centers at New York City Housing Authority developments that were set to close at the beginning of July. The operations of the centers will be transferred to the Department for the Aging.

The centers were targeted for closure because of low participation and a need for budget cuts but seniors at many facilities rallied for support.

The stated plan was to provide busing to nearby facilities.

At the Frederick Douglas Senior Center on West 102nd Street, seniors had organized a petition and a letter calling on the city to maintain funding. Elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell also voiced opposition to the centers’ closing.

Seniors at the Bland, King and Astoria houses were also vocal about opposition to the closure.

Centers to remain open:                                             Operator:

Armstrong Wayside Tompkins Park
Shelton JSPOA
Douglass West Side Federation
King Towers Presbyterian
Palmetto Gardens Riseboro Community
Langston Hughes NYCHA
Astoria NYCHA
Sumner NYCHA
Bland NYCHA
Lincoln NYCHA

The two centers that were slated for closure but did not have funding restored are Baisley Park and Taft.

“The Council worked very hard to advocate for our seniors in this year’s budget and we are proud of the result,” a spokesperson for the Council said.

“The seniors are ecstatic. They are happy,” said Basilia Silverio, assistant director of the Douglas center. “I am happy. Imagine losing your job. It’s not an easy situation.”

“Ensuring that seniors have access to quality social opportunities is a measure of who we are as a society,” said Paul Freitag, executive director of the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing, the organization that operates the Douglas center.

The Douglas center has persistent leak from the ceiling. According to Freitag, repairs by NYCHA are in progress.

As for future funding, discussions will be ongoing, the Council spokesperson said.

The post 10 NYCHA Senior Centers to Remain Open appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Famartin

'Although it can be difficult to think big, when New Yorkers provide input as a collective, we can bring about a better, more thoughtfully formed infrastructure system.'

While many bemoan the state of the MTA, debate the future of the BQE, and question the role that congestion pricing can play in our city’s future, few have considered what it would mean to take a high-level approach to tackling New York City’s infrastructure problems. Over the past four years, we, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), have worked to create an Infrastructure Management Standard—one that can comprehensively address the infrastructure issues plaguing our city. The keys to this standard, and the changes it could bring about, are threefold: big yet detailed thinking, a transparent and accountable process focused on the community, and a sustainable source of equitably distributed wealth.

To effectively handle the challenges we face, we need to first consider infrastructure at the highest level and understand how various malfunctioning systems are interconnected. We might say that infrastructure operates in clusters. The MTA is intertwined with NJ Transit and LIRR, the ferry system, and the private bus lines that service the greater metropolitan area. All of these services are dependent on the conditions of roads, bridges, highways, and miles of track.

CityViews are readers’ opinions, not those of City Limits. Add your voice today!

Considering the issues from such a high level can be intimidating, but it can help save us from the crucial errors that come from thinking too small. Consider congestion pricing. While this will likely decrease the number of people driving from Westchester County into the city, many may respond by driving to a nearby commuter rail station to park and take the train. But are there enough parking lots to accommodate this? Will the trains be able to adequately serve this new influx of passengers? These are difficult questions, but asking them helps us not only to take a regional approach to urban infrastructure, but more effectively serve those who rely on transit every day.

Although it can be difficult to think big, when New Yorkers provide input as a collective, we can bring about a better, more thoughtfully formed infrastructure system. As the ultimate beneficiaries of such work, New Yorkers are also best-poised to address the failures of the systems they use every day. Comprehensively assessing our city’s infrastructure problems will both require and encourage buy-in from our fellow New Yorkers. Community engagement must be iterative and ongoing in order to establish a culture of transparency and accountability that builds trust.

Sign up for our newsletters to get our reporting delivered to you.

The Weekly

Never miss a probing investigative report, thought-provoking op-ed or news making podcast

Sign up for The Weekly Mapping the Future

City Limits' Housing and Development Bulletin. News and Tools for New Yorkers to Navigate the Housing Crunch

Sign up for Mapping the Future

Sign up for free newsletters and get more of City Limits delivered to your inbox.

Thank you!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email for a confirmation.

The most effective model for such engagement, and for general infrastructure evaluation, would follow a four-step process. First, the municipal authority provides the community with a detailed and clustered assessment of its infrastructure. Next, an “engagement meeting” provides the opportunity to present financials for each system of infrastructure and for the community to weigh in on priorities—frequency of use, quality of service, and potential sources of funding. Based on this feedback, the municipal authority then revises their assessment to include forward-looking recommendations. The report and plans for the future are then shared with the community at a final engagement meeting.

This iterative and transparent process may seem idealistic, but it relies on an urgent truth: infrastructure is a public good. And land value—commonly-owned, socially-created wealth—can be tapped to keep this public good alive and well. Henry George, the 19th century political economist, was one of the first to understand this. The value of New York City doesn’t just live on Wall Street or on Broadway. The value of New York lives in the boroughs we occupy, in the places we live and work. When this land is improved, we all serve to benefit. But particularly those who are impacted most directly—people who can expect a new bus stop or live along the 2nd Ave Q. Rather than taxing New Yorkers (even those upstate) indiscriminately, we can frankly assess how improvements on the land improve our lives. This standard and process for infrastructure evaluation can help us to make long-overdue improvements a reality.

If we as a city can recognize how we stand to benefit, and our leaders can take seriously our input into the services that concretely impact our lives, we can bring about a more equitable, transparent, and effective infrastructure systems.

Marty Rowland is a trustee of the Henry George School of Economics and a Senior Fellow at the Asset Leadership Network.

The post Opinion: NYC Needs to Think Bigger—and Better—About Improving Infrastructure appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Absorbing Voices is part of City Limits’ move to expand its existing portfolio of deep coverage of housing, transit, climate change, and elections.

NEW YORK, July 15 – Voices of New York, a unique news site dedicated to curating and promoting the best of ethnic and community journalism in the New York region, will become part of the award-winning news operation at City Limits.

Originally launched as Voices That Must Be Heard after the September 11 attacks left the Muslim community feeling invisible, a decade later the news site became Voices of New York and was published by the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. It became a key element of the school’s Center for Community and Ethnic Media that provides training and other support to community and ethnic news outlets.

Due to changing strategic priorities, the school ceased publishing Voices this spring. But City Limits, a non profit news agency, is picking up where the school left off. By this fall, new coverage as well as Voices archived stories will be available at citylimits.org/voices.

For more than 40 years City Limits has done deep coverage of issues facing New York, especially its most vulnerable communities. Its stories have been recognized with awards from the Deadline Club, New York Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, and Education Writers Association.

City Limits’ publisher Fran Reilly said she is excited that Voices will be further broadening the news agency’s reach. “Voices celebrates New York’s incredible diversity while also bringing together communities separated by language and geography,” Reilly added. “We look forward to making the best of ethnic and community reporting accessible to a larger audience.”

Sarah Bartlett, dean of the Newmark J-School, said, “We are thrilled that City Limits has stepped up to help preserve Voices. It has been our privilege to sustain it for the last eight years, and housing it in a news organization with such a deep commitment to covering all of this city’s communities is the best possible outcome.”

In addition to absorbing Voices, City Limits is growing its portfolio with deep coverage of housing, transit, aging, climate change, and elections. It also has a new Spanish-language initiative, operates a paid internship program for young local journalists, and co-hosts a public-affairs radio show.  And, City Limits recently launched a housing-policy newsletter and helped lead a collaborative effort to improve freedom of information practices in New York City.

“You know you’re in New York when the newspaper rack at the deli has headlines in three or four languages you don’t speak, and a community paper that covers a neighborhood you barely know,” said Jarrett Murphy, the editor of City Limits. “This is a single city of many worlds, and City Limits is honored to help draw attention to the excellent reporters active in all of them.”

The post Critical Voice for Ethnic Community Press Re-launches at City Limits News appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Cartel de tamaño completo aquí.

Full size poster

The New York Immigration Coalition is publicizing these hotlines ahead of an anticipated wave of federal immigration enforcement actions.

To report a raid:
Immigrant Defense Project: 212-725-6422 (leave a message and it will be returned; is being monitored this weekend)

For services:
ONA (outside NYC): 1-800-566-7636. Typical hours M-F 9-8; open this weekend Saturday/Sunday 9-5
ActionNYC (in NYC): 1-800-354-0365. Typical hours M-F 9-6; open this weekend Saturday/Sunday 9-5
Legal Aid: (NYC) 1-844-955-3425. Typical hours M-F 9-5; open this weekend Saturday/Sunday 9-5
New Sanctuary Coalition: 903-884-HELP/908-791-5309 open this weekend

Know Your Rights toolkits are available here in Arabic, Bengali.Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Kreyol, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Urdu and Yoruba.

Printable Know Your Rights cards are available in several languages here.

The post ICE Raids Anticipated: Know Your Rights (Conoce Tus Derechos) appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Mia Gindis

Taxi drivers and advocates rallied on the steps of City Hall Thursday calling for the city to help medallion owners who are struggling with debt.

With additional reporting by Anna Rhoads, Manoli Figetakis, Brandon Yam, Lakhsmi Chatterjee, Sadia Haque, Mia Gindis and Rainier Harris from the City Limits Accountability Reporting for Youth (CLARIFY) program.

* * * *

Elected officials, cab drivers and industry advocates are calling on Mayor de Blasio to bail out debt-burdened taxi medallion owners, arguing the city itself played a role in the crisis when it auctioned off medallions at sky-high prices, despite signs that the industry was heading towards a decline.

Councilmember Mark Levine rallied on the steps of City Hall on Thursday with drivers and taxi advocates, demanding the city intervene more aggressively to help medallion owners, many of whom took out large loans to purchase the permits, only to have the value of their medallions plummet in recent years as competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber flooded the market. A New York Times investigation this spring found that industry leaders artificially inflated the value of medallions, with brokers and lenders convincing drivers to take out risky loans they ultimately could not afford.

Sign up for our newsletters to get our reporting delivered to you.

The Weekly

Never miss a probing investigative report, thought-provoking op-ed or news making podcast

Sign up for The Weekly Mapping the Future

City Limits' Housing and Development Bulletin. News and Tools for New Yorkers to Navigate the Housing Crunch

Sign up for Mapping the Future

Sign up for free newsletters and get more of City Limits delivered to your inbox.

Thank you!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email for a confirmation.

But Levine and others say the city, too, profited from the industry’s downfall by auctioning off hundreds of medallions in the last two decades at dramatically inflated prices. Such auctions were held as recently as 2014, when the minimum bid was $850,000, according to Levine. Medallions have recently been sold for as low as $138,000, Crain’s New York reported.

“The city itself is culpable. The city itself profited from this bubble. The city itself pumped up this bubble,” Levine said Thursday. “The city itself was asleep as thousands of drivers entered into a world of financial hell which is ruining their lives and those of their families.”

Taxi medallion owners who attended Thursday’s rally told stories of struggling to afford their hefty monthly mortgage payments and provide for their families, working long hours but earning meager profits.

“I have three children,” said Vinod Malhotra, 54, who has been driving a taxi since 1993 and purchased his medallion in 2010. “I worry about them. It’s very hard to break even. I have my rent, my mortgage, my loans, and other expenses. It’s very hard for me to make a living. My kids, when they go to college—I cannot afford all that.”

Another driver, Hakan Humusoglu, says he works long hours to stay afloat but is increasingly anxious about his financial future.

“We have to start from the middle of the night, like 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m.,” Humusoglu told City Limits. “I can’t sleep. I’m nervous, I’m angry and I don’t see my future, and I don’t see our drivers’ future.”

A number of taxi drivers have committed suicide in recent years, which many attribute to the industry’s turmoil.

“They paved these streets with their blood, sweat and tears,” said Bhairavi Desai, head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “Whatever they are making on the meter is going straight to pay that loan, and vehicle, and insurance.”

Levine is proposing that the city purchase taxi medallion owners’ mortgages from their lenders, then refinance those loans on more favorable terms, serving as the new lender and offering payment plans that more accurately reflect drivers’ financial realities. De Blasio has previously said such a bailout was not feasible, estimating it would cost the city billions of dollars, according to the Times but Levine disputes that estimate. The mayor’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.

“We are not going to let up until the city pays this moral debt,” the councilman said.

Mohammed Hoque, another medallion owner, says he immigrated from Bangladesh before purchasing his medallion in 2014, and is now struggling to stay afloat.

“I was a federal officer back there [Bangladesh] with a big dream, and now I am becoming beggar,” he says.

The post Councilmember & Taxi Drivers Call for Bailout, Citing City’s Role in Crisis appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Beyond My Ken

A view of the Dyckman Houses of the New York City Housing Authority, from the parking lot of the New Leaf restaurant in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan.

Sign up for our Mapping the Future newsletter to receive housing updates—including the latest news, statistics, tools for tenants and homeowners and affordable-rental lotteries—in your inbox weekly. Here are some of the headlines from this week’s update:

From City Limits

Not far from the site where Amazon would have established its New York HQ2, city planners and community members have been talking—thoughtfully, by most accounts—about a development project that could span decades and reshape western Queens. The Sunnyside Yards site is six-times the size of Hudson Yards and it could be developed into up to 24,000 housing units. The mega master plan is coming together, reports Shannon Ayala.

There are some similarities between the community and city’s rezoning proposals for Bushwick, but the differences are important to Bushwick community members who say they have waited for decades for serious public investments in their neighborhood. Sadef Kully takes a side-by-side look at how the two plans to govern the development in the rapidly-changing neighborhood stack up.

Bushwick is changing, rapidly, and not necessarily for the better. Take just one statistic: the share of apartments on the market that are affordable to households with incomes at 80 percent of the Area Median Income feel from 65.2 percent to 45.5 percent from 2009 to 2017. Jarrett Murphy looks at the changing elements of Bushwick and what a major rezoning adds to the mix.

From Around the City

Children living in lead-tainted apartments were left to stay in them, even after the city discovered conclusive evidence of the lead, the Post reports. Following the report, the mayor pledged to have the conditions in the apartments reexamined.

NYCHA is expanding its office hours at 300 locations throughout the city, NY1 reports. The housing authority’s customer contact centers will stay open until 7:30 pm on Every Wednesday until August. The centers are normally open until 5:30 pm.

Can landlords still find ways to jack up regulated rents under the new laws? The short answer is: not very easily. Gothamist looks in to five ways landlords might raise the rents on regulated tenants.

Foreclosures rose in Brooklyn, even while they dropped in other parts of the city, Bklyner reports. So far in 2019, 242 residential properties have been foreclosed on in in Brooklyn.

The post Housing Update: New Worries About Children in Lead-Tainted Apartments appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

mobilization for justice

Tenants and their allies gather in front of 299 Troutman Street in Bushwick.

Five Bushwick tenants filed a lawsuit Thursday morning against the landlord and other parties connected to a multi-family building, demanding emergency repair services and for the city take control of the site after a decade of “negligence” by the various owners.

The building at 299 Troutman Street has eight units with only four units being utilized while the other four units sit burned and empty on the third and fourth floors after a 2008 fire, according to the Ariana Marmora, senior staff attorney and community outreach specialist for Mobilization for Justice, Inc., a legal services group that is representing the tenants.

According to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the repairs needed in the building are so extensive that they issued an “order to repair/vacate” order to the property after a recent inspection.

The repairs list is long, totalling 107 open housing-code violations, including a lack of significant repairs since the fire, complaints of no heat or hot water in the entire building, heavy water flow from ceiling/walls and cracked ceilings to failure to inspect the boiler, according to city records. The building is listed as owned by Xing Liang Shen and managed by Capital Home Realty Inc., according to HPD records.

“We are here to let the landlords know that we will see them in court,” said Marmora during a Wednesday morning press conference. “We are going to use every law we have aggressively. These tenants should not be living in uninhabitable conditions.”

Assemblymember Maritza Davila, Community Board 4 chair Robert Comacho and District Manager Celestina Leon joined the press conference outside of 299 Troutman Street with the tenants to show support for their lawsuit. Davila said the building’s condition was reprehensible.

The lawsuit names several groups, from current owners Shen and his wife Irene Zhang Xing, to several past owners as well as the Bank of New York Mellon, Home Heating Oil Corp, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB), the city’s Environmental Control Board and HPD.

Marmora said that the property’s deed has had liens against it which has complicated the case even further, which is why her group has brought the lawsuit against present and most recent owners. But she said the case was rare because the owner was not shielded by a limited liability company or LLC. Marmora said despite the city being named in the lawsuit, all three city agencies were actively working with tenants and Mobilization for Justice to help bring repair services as quickly as possible.

The lawsuit is asking for a judgment authorizing the city to take over the property: collecting rent and making the necessary repairs authorized by the court. The city would have the authority to file a lien against the property for the cost of the work. Tenants also are seeking an injunction against the property owner, a fine between $1,000 to $10,000 for each unit, compensatory damages of $1,000 for each tenant and reimbursement for attorney’s fees and costs.

On Thursday in the Brooklyn civil court, the property owner arrived without an attorney and no Mandarin interpreter was present so the case was adjourned until August 12.

The post Bushwick Tenants Sue to Force City Takeover of ‘Reprehensible’ Building appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

formulate

Rikers Island

The Rikers Island jail complex is notorious worldwide for its pervasive cycles of violence and abuse among those incarcerated, staff, volunteers and visitors — the causes of which are numerous and intractable. These subhuman conditions are further reflected by the rapidly deteriorating structure and lack of basic services which are continually perpetuated by the physical isolation of the facilities. This separation only serves to create barriers between incarcerated people and the support systems they require to successfully navigate and surmount the justice system.

CityViews are readers’ opinions, not those of City Limits. Add your voice today!

For these reasons, the city has rightfully committed to closing Rikers once and for all. We all dream of a world in which jails do not exist, but we must also be realistic and intentional about the need for new facilities and their placement within the five boroughs. Because of our continued efforts to decarcerate, New York City is now a national leader on alternatives to jail and reducing incarceration rates. Additionally, new laws in Albany on bail, discovery, and speedy trial will continue to reduce the number of pretrial detainees by at least 2,900 people.  But this is not enough to bring us to a population of zero. And while we continue to fight battles to decrease the jail population, Rikers Island must be closed immediately.

There are advocates who are staunchly opposed to building new facilities. While these advocates and I share many of the same values and goals, there is only one realistic and truly just pathway forward — the building of borough-based jails. The notion that ‘if we build more beds they will be filled’ blatantly ignores that the current facilities on Rikers Island have a far greater capacity than all of the borough-based designs combined. We cannot afford to wait. Every day Rikers Island continues to operate is a stain on the collective conscience of our city.

With the closing of Rikers, we now have the opportunity to build facilities that can, by design, not only eliminate the need for incarceration entirely, but in the interim, serve as an incentive to keep jail populations at historic lows. Borough-based facilities is our best pathway forward because they reflect our values and offer the most holistic reforms to our criminal justice system in New York City.

The physical design of these facilities is critical to accomplishing this goal. Just as the physical structure of Rikers has contributed to more violence, intentional design features can instead honor dignity, increase rehabilitation and ultimately improve public safety. There must be a prioritization of designing spaces that can support robust programming and services, such as counseling groups, education and vocational programming, family meetings, recreation, and spiritual guidance. This includes creating spaces for medical, mental health, and dependency treatment including prenatal and maternity care and gender-affirming treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

These facilities should also be trauma-informed and have the least restrictive conditions possible. There is a strong body of research connecting one’s physical environment to their emotional and psychological well-being, mood and behavior. Access to natural light, outdoor areas and ample communal spaces are key components of this practice and would further serve to enhance the success of these new facilities.

Sign up for our newsletters to get our reporting delivered to you.

The Weekly

Never miss a probing investigative report, thought-provoking op-ed or news making podcast

Sign up for The Weekly Mapping the Future

City Limits' Housing and Development Bulletin. News and Tools for New Yorkers to Navigate the Housing Crunch

Sign up for Mapping the Future

Sign up for free newsletters and get more of City Limits delivered to your inbox.

Thank you!

Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email for a confirmation.

The designs should also be created with gender-responsive principles in mind. Rikers was designed for men and as evidenced by current practices, one size does not fit all. It is essential to create living spaces that are separate, private and clean and consider the needs of specific populations. For example, the women’s facility should have an on-site nursery with a minimum of 16 beds so women can remain and bond with their newborns, as well as spaces where older children can stay overnight. Not only does this design allow for better experiences, but it also reinforces positive outcomes such as maintaining family relationships, which ultimately strengthens communities.

We must continue to push for better and more alternatives to incarceration, decriminalization of low-level offenses, eliminating jail for technical violations of parole among a range of needed reforms. However, at this moment, the strongest measure we can take to decarcerate New York City is to close Rikers Island and build smaller, safer, borough-based facilities.

Vivian Nixon is the Executive Director of College & Community Fellowship, a non-profit that partners with women with criminal convictions to help them earn their college degrees so that they, their families, and their communities can thrive. You can follow her on Twitter @Vivian_Nixon_WW

The post Opinion: Decarcerating NYC Starts With Building Smaller Jails appeared first on City Limits.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview